On Thursday, Boeing revealed that it has stopped supplying certain Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as it struggles with a new defect with a supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, which may date back to 2019.
“Boeing has reported a new supplier quality issue with Spirit AeroSystems that could date back to 2019, leading to a halt in deliveries of some of the undelivered 737 MAX airplanes both in production and storage,” according to the company.
Boeing halts 737 MAX deliveries
The issue is likely to have a significant impact and decrease 737 MAX deliveries in the near term. Following the announcement, shares of Boeing fell 5.3%, while Spirit AeroSystems’ shares fell 11.8% in after-hours trading, reported Reuters.
Boeing clarified that this problem affects a portion of the 737 MAX family of airplanes. This includes MAX 7, MAX 8, and MAX 8200 airplanes and the P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft based on the 737 NG. However, it is not a safety of flight concern, and the in-service planes can continue to operate.
According to reports, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has validated Boeing’s assessment that there are no immediate safety concerns with the affected aircraft. The FAA has said it will evaluate all the affected planes before delivery.
What’s the Problem?
The issue pertains to the incorrect attachment of two fittings that connect the aft fuselage to the vertical tail. Spirit made it before the fuselage was sent to Boeing.
Some aircraft versions, such as the MAX 9, used fittings from different suppliers and were correctly installed. Furthermore, the FAA has approved Boeing’s assessment that there is no immediate safety concern.
Boeing was informed of the issue by Spirit on Wednesday. Subsequently, the company is still determining the number of aircraft that may be affected.
Boeing has not commented whether the recent supplier issue will impede its plans to increase 737 productions this year as the company seeks to deliver at least 400 MAXs in 2023.
The Planemaker reported deliveries of 111 MAXs in the first quarter. Further, it hoped to raise monthly MAX production rates from 31 to 38 by June. Boeing stated that it had alerted the FAA about the issue. Moreover, it conducts inspections to replace the non-conforming fittings where required.
The company expressed regret over the impact the issue may have on affected customers. Boeing is in communication with them regarding their delivery schedule.
Customer and Supplier Comments
After discussing with Boeing, United Airlines (UA) stated on Thursday that they do not anticipate a significant impact. On their capacity plans for this summer or the rest of the year due to the new supplier problem.
Spirit AeroSystems is developing an inspection and repair for the affected fuselages. Subsequently, the FAA is expected to issue an airworthiness directive that would mandate an inspection and repair regime.
Since two fatal plane crashes in 2018 and 2019, the FAA has closely monitored Boeing aircraft. Likewise, FAA continues to inspect each 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner before issuing an airworthiness certificate for delivery. Normally, airplane ticketing authority is delegated to the manufacturer by the FAA.
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